tv America Tonight Al Jazeera February 14, 2016 12:30am-1:01am EST
>> thanks for joining us on "america tonight." i'm joie chen. the steady drip drip drip of robs for the water supply in flint, michigan has turned into a flood. the latest. a boil order because of a main break. who is going to pay or the those fixes and on top of everything else, increasing evidence that the city's water now known to be contaminated with lead, may have
harbored another risk, a deadly one. "america tonight's" lori jane gliha has followed the incidents since it broke and she returned to look at the latest. >> have you looked at this book? >> it helps. at first i couldn't look at any pictures to tell you the truth. >> terry nelson and her husband duane were high school sweethearts who spent 22 years living in the quiet community of flushing, michigan, ten miles from flint. they lived far enough outside the city they thought they wouldn't be affected by flint's contaminated water. when flint switched its water source from the great lakes to the polluted flint river in 2014, residents first experienced bacteria and chemicals in their drinking water, and later discovered lead. now, that tainted water is being blamed for yet another public health crisis.
>> we didn't have the flint water, and i just didn't expect it ever to be that bad. i thought it was something they could probably fix right away. >> but when her husband passed away over the summer, terry suspected it was his contact with flint water that led to his sudden death. >> i had to call 911. he couldn't move. he couldn't stand up. >> terry believes her husband was exposed to contaminated water while he was receiving cancer treatment at a flint hospital. duane was undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer but terry thought he would have more time. >> i'd just like to tell him i'm doing okay. i tell him that all the time now, i'm doing all right and the kids are okay. >> according to the death certificate, legio
legion naires disease was the cause. >> the only place he had contact with flint water, it turned my world upside down and he was my everything. part of me will always be gone. >> reporter: the respiratory infection is caused by water borne bacteria when they are breathed into the lungs. >> have you heard about legionnaire's disease? >> evidently, i knew it was a water thing but -- and then reply mind started to go, after i heard that he had legionnaire's. >> how quickly did your mind go from legionnaire's to maybe this has something to do with the water? >> right away. i think, we all did. >> reporter: what terry didn't know was that her husband's death in the summer of 2015 and
the deaths of at least eight others were part of an unprecedented legionnaire's outbreak in genesee county, michigan. newly released reports show that legionnaire's sickened many in that county, during the time that flint's water was causing probts foproblems for others. >> i don't understand why they didn't make the public aware, i thought for sure they would have to tell the public about it and that's concerning to me. >> reporter: why wasn't there proactive information definitive to the public at that time? >> because we didn't have the story to tell. >> reporter: mark valaachec heads the genesee county health department. he said the information was
available publicly but felt no need to make a public announcement. >> if the public is not consuming that information -- >> what is the point of presenting information to the public that is numbers where you don't have a connection or something that they can do? we've got hundreds of communicable diseases that are reported. at what point does the public need to know? the public needs to know when there's something they can do to protect themselves. we have identified a source so they can take some action. when we are investigating something and we don't know a source, it just leads to speculation. and i don't see a benefit. >> reporter: valichec says the cdc is helping to get to the
source. >> the challenge has been to match up the cases with the individuals that were infected and we really didn't see matches occurring. so that was one of the big challenges. >> reporter: how many other outbreaks like this has genesee county seen in the 30 years that you have been here? >> for different types of diseases or -- >> the legionella? >> none. >> reporter: heather beach said she and others deserved the notification. especially after her son got sick over the summer. >> when the pediatrician tells you your son is too sick to walk and he has to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital , it's scary, know. lots of them lay the almost die.
you know and if their lungs wasn't bad enough. then his heart starts messing up so then we don't know what's going on with that, you know, and what's going on, you know. so he -- i mean he literally couldn't breathe. >> reporter: doctors took chest x rays of her son conor and after monitoring him several days they diagnosed him with pneumonia. heather wonders if he was infected with legionnaire's and blames the whole thing with flint's ongoing water problems. >> there's too much in the same time frame to call it a coincidence. >> reporter: is it a coincidence in your mind that there was a legionnaire's outbreak? >> no, it's what we would expect based on experiments we did in 2014 and a paper we wrote. you would have predict they'd this would have happened. >> mark edwards is the virginia
tech engineer whose extensive water research and testing in flint revealed lead problems in the drinking water. in 2014, his team also tested for and found legionella in flint. >> would legionella live in this pipe here? >> you would have some legionella growing in this russ rust layer here because it likes the rust. but where it really grows is in the house, where the pipes are warmer. >> without special treatment to reduce the pipes corrosive properties, one would expect higher levels of bac bacteria. that's exactly what his team found in certain parts of flint's water. >> the combination of the theory which we had already proven in the laboratory plus the field sampling plus the documented, it's indisputable,
a legionella outbreak occurred and a very compelling case this was related to the water. >> while edwards says he cannot say with certainty what caused the lee leej flare legionnaire's outbreak. >> none of these bad consequences would have occurred. that's why we have the law but now what are we going to do about it? so the responsibility for this almost completely lies on these career employees who again are paid to protect us and did not do their job. >> he didn't really even know what he had. so -- >> terry nelson says she wants answers after learning the hospital where her husband received treatment, mclaren
flint, reported finding lowell low level of legionella bacteria. >> i just don't know what to do. >> hospital officials say the medical festivity has since imposed safeguards. no matter what the cause of the outbreak, heather's parents hope some day soon they can stop worrying about the water and start focusing on what's most important. her family. >> anybody knows me, knows this, i would die for my kids. they're my life. i mean, nothing else matters in my whole world except those boys. so there's
nothing, nothing that i won't do for them. >> next we consider what to do about it. "america tonight's" lori jane gliha joins us, for the latest developments in flint and what is being done to solve the city's water problems. later a brighter chapter on the water. we set sail with a love story for the ages and what just might be a happy ending. and hot on "america tonight's" website now america's most expensive weapon system. the supertechnology in the f-35 and new indications of even more trouble with that will trillion dollar fighter jet, at aljazeera.com/americatonight.
>> "america tonight's" lori jane gliha. one of the first reporters who picked up and following the situation at flint from the very beginning. joins us. let's talk about your report about the legionnaire's disease, are there any active cases at a they are investigating right now in flint? >> right now is a cooler month, legionella thrive in warmer pipes and that kind of thing. what's interesting is what will happen when we get into the wrarmewarmer months. a water scientist says this all seems to be connected to the water change. but if this doesn't happen, you
should be open to the fact that these two things are linked. >> we've heard about legionnaire's disease many times over the decades really. explain to us what it is. i assumed this is something you might drink and that would cause it. >> actually it's not and that's one thing i think a lot of people are concerned about in flint. because they've got the lady problems with the water and you shouldn't consume it that way. this is water born, but you would inhale from water droplets, also, cooling systems and things like that. that's how people end up getting sick like this. if you drink and goes down the wrong pipe and gets into your respiratory system, it targets people who have underlying health conditions for example the man we included in our piece he was suffering from lung
cancer and it preys and sticks with those who have compromised respiratory systems. >> people were exposed but don't suffer ill effects. >> or figure out that that was the cause. they did reveal that legionnaire's or legionella was connected with it. one interesting thing the water scientists say, we don't track all the things that could be tracked to the water. there could be other sicknesses that the people have suffered but have not been studied, who knows. there might be other things people got sick from, in flint. >> the anxiety and so many debates at this point about what should be done and who really is going to pay for it. >> and they're constantly having hearings. there was another congressional hearing today in which the mayor testified the doctor who helped
uncover the lead issues in flint, she was testifying in front of congress, and how it is to be handled. as far as the lead issue in flint, if people have filters or drinking bottled water they should be fine and actually the water expert told us that the water is safer than it's ever been before the switch. as long as you have filters on your water. i said to him, how long is it going to be before it's safe to drink unfiltered water in flint. there's still concerns about when is it going to be safe. >> the mayor said there may be aconcern of a wholesale change of every pipe in the city. >> there were massive issues with the pipes to begin with. the corrosive water started to eat away at the pipes and that became a problem. but one of the things now that they've put in the proper chemicals the pipes are going to be able to rebuild this layer
around them that will help fix the situation. but eventually these pipes have lost several years, eventually they need to be replaced and come up with some long term solution with that. >> but in the meantime, that's tens of millions of dollars at least. "america tonight's" lori jane gliha following closely on the story, thank you. next here, too grand to fail? a titanic love story for ages and how one gray lady could rise again. a vessel of romance on the high seas.
judge. >> she's come close to the very end of the line. but the heroine of one of the greatest love stories now stands at the bow of a titanic sequel. we've told you what looked like was going to be a sad ending to the s.s. united states, that ship standing at the port of philadelphia. >> even now her beauty faded her engines still, you can see there's never been an ocean liner quite as grand as the s.s. united states. docked at philadelphia's pier 82 on the delaware river she's hard to miss. dan mcsweeney wasn't even look for her the time he first passed by but she stopped him in his tracks. >> i was driving in philadelphia and something impelled me to
look to the left. i saw the stacks. >> you new what it was? >> the stacks are iconic. >> so much about the ss united states is exceptional. her size, 990 feet, five blocks long, nearly the height of the empire state building. her speed to this day, she holds the pafng passenge passenger lid for crossing the atlantic. when the united states launched in 1952, a hull constructed almost entirely out of a space age material. >> entirely of aluminum. >> superstructure is aluminum. there's no rust it's solid. under the paint there's perfect condition. there's no problem -- >> it would be sea worthy? >> it would be sea worthy. >> mcsweeney isn't the first
to fall for this ship, it was william francis gibbs, sending 40 years to build the ship. susan gibbs is his granddaughter. >> i'm particularly fond of this picture because it shows my grandfather, gazing at the moment of the ship's launch. >> the moment when william gibbs ship superseded the story of that other luxury ocean liner. >> there's inevitable comparison to the titanic, from the same time. >> our ship is the omost famous ship that didn't sink. >> in her memory, gibbs grandfather was a reserved dry figure. he died when she was only five. but in combing through his old letters, susan gibbs found her grandfather was determined to build a ship faster stronger and safer than any other. even banning the use of any wood on the ship to prevent fire. >> the cat streef of th
catastrophe of the titanic as well as other vessels motivated my grandfather, with respect to the s.s. united states, you can't set her on fire you can't catch her and you can't sink her. he was maniacal. there is a picture on the wall of my home in which he is standing on the shore parkway of brooklyn gazing at his ship after the return of its transatlantic run. it was a love story. >> the two world wars 38 the project for years but also become cattle lists for building the ship . gibbs made part of it his sales pitch. >> he was appealing to
patriotism and to national self interest. >> it was the height of the cold war and america needed became of a troo troopship disguised as an ocean liner. >> she will be capable of transporting a complete army division of 10,000 men, without stopping for food water or fuel. >> instead the ss united states lived out her career carrying the american dream. >> it was though some great new york hotel was break away. >> a ballroom. >> black tie. >> exactly. >> over a million celebrities, stars of their day, boarded what
became flown as america's flagship. there. >> there was a big element of glamor because she was so large, she became the symbol of our nation internationally. >> and for the lest celebrated travelers she became the gateway to the new world. >> after ellis island was shut down, this became a floating immigrant processing center, so many including my father came to the united states through the s s united states. >> first class passengers for 17 years, through her final crossing in 1969. >> did 800 transatlantic crossings. never had a mishap many was always on time. this is the anti-titanic. >> but what the transatlantic
crossings didn't accomplish, jet airliners did. the luxury liner was obsolete. her ballroom fell silent, her first class cabins stripped bare, aging curiosity, viewed mostly from a distance. >> i understand people come around just to look at her. >> that's true. there are people that stop at the gate and just gaze just like i did all those years ago. and it is because she is amazing. >> but even keeping her parked here is shockingly expensive. $60,000 a month! that's with no repairs. her caretakers figure it would take $1 billion to put her back ton seas. at some point, soon they admit, the only option might be to sell her for salvage . >> there is a chance the ship could be scrapped. >> scrapped? >> scrapped. >> ripped apart? >> recycled basically, turned into razor blades.
>> that would break your heart. >> it would break my heart. it is the last of its kind. the last great ocean liner bears the name, united states. it would be tragic really, tragic acknowledge we can't get her back if that happens. >> the trick is to find a developer, the vision to see the ship rat 500,000 square feet of floating waterfront property, most likely in new york her home port. >> what would it be to have her in the shadows of the statue of liberty? >> i think it would be great. it sailed from new york for 17 years and just like the statue of liberty it is a great symbol for thawnt our country offers. >> it is, susan gibbs says, the last voyage teen ship herself longs to take. >> she still has this incredible strength. you see the ship sitting there. she is held fast by these bright blue lines and you just get the
sense that she's like you know i'm ready to go somewhere. she's not done. she's ready to bring in crowds again. >> that's right, don't count her out yet. since we first visited the s.s. united states, the fight to save her has risen through turbulent waters and now we're happy to hear the final chapter in her story has not yet been written. crystal cruises, the luxury line is picking up the tab for the next months to see if it's possible to send her back to sea. yes, the s.s. united states could yet again set sail with a new generation of young love on board. that's it for our show, talk to us on aljazeera.com/americatonight. you can see us on twitter or facebook and come back, we'll have more of "america tonight," tomorrow. >> our american story is written everyday.